In The Quiet Of A Life


In The Quiet Of A Life

Wherein remains in the quiet of one’s life

In the melancholy of the soul

There lies deep inside of one

A bell gone silent without toll

There comes a reminiscent thought

When one looks back at what is still,

A passage of time forever sought

And to their memory commit to will;

For in the silence and the quiet

Of a bell that cannot toll,

They sit and wonder, meek and shy

What it was that came and stole

Their thoughts and pondering of time

A passage of life, they cannot find

For in the stillness of the hour

It is the quiet of their mind.

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Poem by:  Joyce E. Johnson

I wrote this poem in 1996 in memory of my father, Victor A. Mannhalter, who died in March, 1982 from a malignant brain tumor. During the last six months of his life the effects of cancer caused severe memory loss so that he could not recognize people or talk coherently to anyone, including me, my mother, and my siblings. When he tried to speak he got names and words mixed up, his thoughts and sentences, scrambled. I put myself in his place trying to imagine how it felt. For patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or malignant brain tumors like my father the symptoms are much the same, as is the frustration in trying to remember things from their past and memories are gone.  For a man in his early sixties who had pastored churches for over forty years and devoted his life to full-time ministry and to the people in his congregations it was difficult to watch him deteriorate so rapidly. He always loved photography, carrying around a trusty old Pentax camera documenting events, his travels, and his life, ours and others in pictures and slides, his favorite pastime. As the cancer progressed, he lost what he treasured most; his internal memory of all, that which could not be saved, regained or preserved like the slides he took.

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